For many, working from home was a luxury that was only afforded to certain employees across a handful of industries. Today, however, the pandemic has forced many non-essential businesses to shift their operations to remote work under guidelines that are meant to safeguard citizens from unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. 

For employees not familiar with work-from-home policies, the idea of working outside of a traditional office space can be perplexing. People imagine remote employees lounging around in their pajamas all day, enjoying leisurely lunches, and taking long breaks throughout the day. While remote work is flexible and convenient, it’s also a lot more challenging than you might realize. Employees still have the same job to do, but under different circumstances that often end up being more distracting than working in an office, which can lead to decreased levels of productivity.

It’s possible to successfully work from home, all you need to do is learn better at-home practices. Here are a few tips: 

Designate a dedicated work space

It’s tempting to view your entire home as an office, but this can actually have negative side effects that can lead to decreased productivity and can even destroy your work-life balance. Pick a specific spot that will become your new ‘desk’. Try to choose a location that isn’t close to high-traffic areas or distracting reminders of being home, like being near a television or bed. Keep all your work-related items here — your desktop or laptop, your documents, your telephone, your headphones, etc.

Plan ahead to eliminate distractions

Your pets, other family members, and things like your TV or fridge can be major temptations. If you don’t plan to minimize these distractions, you’re going to find yourself being pulled from your work multiple times throughout the day. If you have pets, make sure they have all their toys on their side of the house so they don’t bother you. If you have children, plan out activities for them to do throughout the day so they don’t bother you when they’re bored. If you know you get hungry throughout the day, keep some snacks at your home desk so you aren’t constantly making trips to the fridge or pantry.

Get dressed and start your day early

If you’re used to going into an office, your morning commute gives you enough time to wake up and mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead. If you work from home, you don’t get this time. So instead, get ready like you normally would if you were going to the office — get showered, put on some real clothes, and pour yourself some coffee. Don’t be tempted to sleep in. If you don’t get started early, you’ll start to feel sluggish and unmotivated. It will be hard to pull yourself out of this mindset when you’re in it. 

Start implementing these tips today, and you’ll realize how productive and motivated you can be while working from home.